AMD was kind enough to send us a "white box" laptop for testing. A "white box" is an unbranded PC that is typically not sold to the public. Although this prototype closely resembles a Dell Vostro business notebook, don't read too much into that. Still, the system configuration used in our test notebook will likely be available from one or more notebook OEMs in the months ahead.
AMD White Box Test Notebook Specifications:
There are two things to keep in mind about this test configuration. First, AMD put its best foot forward by giving us the current top-of-the-line APU rather than the mid-range or lower-voltage APUs designed for thin and light notebooks. Second, this notebook is packed with a fast solid state drive (SSD) and fast RAM (DDR3-1600) which are two things you might not find inside some of the budget-oriented notebooks that will ship with AMD APUs later this year. It important to keep this in mind since some of the synthetic benchmarks such as PCMark can be heavily influenced by fast RAM and fast storage drives. AMD says notebooks with the new A10 APUs should have prices that start around $699.
AMD A-series Performance and Benchmarks
I've already explained that our test notebook features the AMD A10-4600M APU with Radeon HD 76600G graphics. This processor has a base clock speed of 2.3GHz and bumps up to 3.2GHz with AMD Turbo Core when the system is running intense applications. That's not bad for a processor with 35W TDP. Again keep in mind that's a 35W TDP for BOTH the quad-core CPU and the integrated graphics on a single chip. An Intel Core i5 processor might have a TDP of 35W but if you want a discrete-class GPU you have to add the TDP of the separate GPU. All that power consumption and heat matters when you're talking about laptops.
With that out of the way, let's jump into the benchmarks:
wPrime processor comparison results (lower scores mean better performance):
PCMark Vantage measures overall system performance (higher scores mean better performance):
PCMark7 measures overall system performance in Windows 7 (higher scores mean better performance):
The synthetic benchmarks shown above for raw system performance are potentially misleading. As previously mentioned, the AMD system gets some help in PCMark thanks to the SSD. That said, if you look at the wPrime results AMD's new A10-4600M APU is roughly equivalent to the Intel Core i5-2467M seen in the Acer Timeline Ultra M3. AMD has historically argued that raw computational power doesn't matter beyond performing calculations on multi-page Excel spreadsheets. However, these synthetic benchmark numbers also translate into real-world performance for tasks like video conversion/encoding and converting MP3s in iTunes.
A potentially larger issue in terms of day-to-day performance is how the new Trinity APUs handle GPU-accelerated software. More and more applications are being developed that use graphics processors to speed up CPU performance -- all of the latest web browsers now do this in order to render web pages more quickly and deliver faster web surfing. We used Cyberlink's MediaEspresso to transcode a 241MB video file from AVCHD to H.264 format. It took the A10-4600M approximately 1 minute and 18 seconds to transcode that video file and it took the Intel Core i5-2430M inside the Dell XPS 14z just 20 seconds thanks to Intel's Quick Sync technology.
3DMark06 measures gaming performance (higher scores mean better performance):
3DMark 11 measures gaming performance in DirectX 11 games (higher scores mean better performance):
The 3DMark benchmarks above show that the Radeon HD 7660G graphics not only exceed the performance of Intel Sandy Bridge Core i5 processors with Intel integrated graphics, but the new APU exceeds the performance of the previous generation of entry-level discrete graphics. The only notebook in the comparison above that beats the A10 is the Acer Aspire Timeline Ultra M3 which features the new Nvidia GeForce GT 640M. However, when you consider that the Acer is priced at more than $1,000 and AMD claims that A10-equipped notebooks will start at $699, the performance of the AMD APU looks pretty good.
In terms of real world gaming performance, the A10 brings plenty to the table. We played Batman: Arkham City at 1366x768 resolution with high detail settings in DX11 mode and our test system played the game with average frame rates around 23 frames per second (fps). If you drop the graphics into DX9 mode then the average frame rate jumps up to closer to 30fps.
Keep in mind that in a perfect world you want a gaming laptop to deliver frame rates of at least 30fps to simulate fluid, lifelike motion. The fact that the AMD A10-4600M APU with Radeon HD 7660G graphics is giving us anything close to 30fps in a visually intense, modern game like Batman: Arkham City on high detail settings puts it roughly on par with the performance of notebooks equipped with entry-level discrete graphics.
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